Member of the carotenoid family. There are hundreds of carotenoids, including lycopene and lutein. Beta-carotene is a precursor that helps form retinol (vitamin A). It is converted to vitamin A in the liver as needed. Topically, beta-carotene is potentially a good antioxidant and can reduce the effects of sun damage, although this benefit is dose dependent. There is research showing that too much beta carotene can generate oxidative damage (Sources: Photochemistry and Photobiology, May 2002, pages 503–506; The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, August 2002, pages 1289–1291; and Berkeley Wellness Newsletter, www.berkeleywellness.com/html/ds/dsBetaCarotene.php).